After we put in the new tube after lunch, we find that in a little over an hour later Hannah’s back tire is flat again. It’s 230P now and we’ve biked 71 kilometers, but we have 39 more to go to arrive at our B and B for the night. Seated by the side of the road in Ellerslie, we wonder what is next as we finish off another energy bar. Though her spare tube is flat, on the bright side, we did make it 15 kilometres on it. Could we just pump up her tire every few kilometres and make it to Summerside, PEI by the evening?
If not, we could hitchhike? Before I went into the Rite Shop convenience store, I saw a pickup truck that could easily hold our two bikes. As I left off in the last blog, Don, the meat guy at the Rite Shop, is finishing filling our water bottles. As I wait, I mention that we have a flat tire. A flat tire? he responds. Just go down to Dennis Motors, it’s about a mile down the road and they’ll fix you up. Without me asking, Don calls Dennis Motors, then turns to me and says, They are ready for you. Who knew a car dealer patches bike tubes? Who knew they’d do it immediately?
I rush back to Hannah, pump up her back tire, and direct her to Dennis Motors, just a mile up the Ellerslie Road. As Hannah pedals purposefully ahead, I pack my panniers and follow soon after.
Andrew of Dennis Motors steps out and immediately takes Hannah’s bike into the garage. In ten minutes he returns with a thread of wire not a quarter inch long that he pulled from the tire itself. Voila! He found the source of our trouble! That explains the slow leak.
Andrew repairs one tire, pumps it to 65 PSI, and patches the other one so we have a spare for our trip. And get this! For 45 minutes of work and two patch kits, he charges us $23. You got to love Canadians. At Dennis Motors, they call ahead to the Summerside Bike Shop and we learn it closes today at 4P. It’s now 330P, which means there is no sense rushing to Summerside to try to beat an evening closing time at the bike shop.
Beyond pleased by this fortuitous turn of events, we can’t believe our good fortune. What would we have done if Dennis Motors didn’t just happen to be down the road? That’s right, we would have done my first hitchhiking since 1971 when, as a 23 year old with shoulder length hair, I ended up in the Knoxville, Tennessee city jail for hitchhiking on my way from Atlanta to Ohio. (That’s another story.)
On the red crushed Confederation Trail, we bike toward Wellington (population 382) 19 kilometres away. Though we’ve been on the trail for more than seven hours, we have nearly three more hours of bicycling still ahead of us. Thankfully, the prevailing winds continue to push us east to Summerside.
As we pedal this afternoon, there are more quiet times as we ride. I think how fortunate I am to have found Hannah, who wants to bike all these miles and is athletically able and fit enough at 65 to do so. We met on the tennis courts at the College of Wooster in Ohio; she a physical education major. I had no idea we’d be so well-matched.
Leaving Wellington (which is again a crossroads town with no services visible in either direction), we take a break with some buffalo right off the Confederation Trail.
Smelling victory just 15 little kilometres ahead, we have cool temperatures and level terrain. Weary, but not wasted, we have visions of the Willow Green Farm B and B dancing in our heads.
Again the wind has been our friend. As we approach Summerside, route two is to our left and the increased number of houses tells us we are close. But Hannah knows something I don’t know. We stop for a picture at kilometre 100 and I don’t have a clue.
Unbeknownst to me, Hannah is again struggling as she pedals. If you know her, you know she is almost always cheery and upbeat; she marshals on when hurdles appear. As we approach town, she says “Don’t look now.” She hasn’t complained at all for the last three hours since Ellerslie, but for the last ten kilometers, Hannah has been riding with a mushy rear tire, feeling every bump. Again the patched tire has not held up.
Disbelieving , we stop within the Summerside city limits for pictures and stare down at another flat tire.
Since Ellerslie, she biked 38 kilometres over more than two and half hours on a tire ever so slowly deflating, that is now as flat as a soufflé after the kitchen door slams. Even so, we know we are quite fortunate, for we are only a half mile from our B and B. We could crawl if we had to. And we would have!
Still we are thankful for Don giving us to the idea to go to Dennis Motors and Andrew for patching the tire to get us to Summerside 39 kilometres away. Throughout the day we’ve had blue skies and temperatures in the upper 50s. No rain, no energy sapping summer humidity. We are going to make it!
Tomorrow when it opens, we’ll go to the Summerside Bike Shop to buy a new tire and an extra replacement tube. I pump up Hannah’s back tire again and we ride the last few kilometres to the Willow Green Farm B and B, spent and ready to kick back.
After parking our bikes, unhooking our panniers, we knock on the B and B front door. Met by our innkeeper Laura, we learn that the room she had told us was to be ours has been taken by a woman who is renting it for a week (the same room we were in last year when we hatched this Confederation Trail ride adventure).
She then adds with a smile, I’ve upgraded you to a suite with a king size bed and a hot tub!
With seventy miles in the books, we take long showers and relax triumphantly into the cushy chairs at Willow Green Farm.
We toast our good fortune and the good people that have come our way. We had left Tignish at 815A and now are settled in at Willow Green Farm at 625P. Life is good.
Then a soak.
We learn that Summerside Bike Works is less than a half a mile away. We’ll breakfast early at 7A and be at SBW when the shop opens at 8A. We have 70 miles down, and tomorrow’s 60 to Mount Stewart, PEI will seem like a breeze, …
…that’s right, a west to east tailwind breeze.